Are you finding yourself not enjoying things that normally bring you joy? Is your sadness deeper than usual?
Here are a few of my personal signs that the depression side of Bipolar Disorder has arrived for me.
Hopelessness: I feel like everything around me is hopeless, everything I do is hopeless, my future is hopeless.
Dread/Disinterest: I have this deep down dread of doing anything outside my home. I have no interest in doing things with my friends, no interest in going to gatherings, and no interest in doing things that I normally take part in.
Irritability: I am irritated. Different irritation than manic irritation. Everything is bothering me and playing on my last nerve and I usually hold it all in until I end up exploding over something and letting it all bubble to the surface.
Sleep: Normally I am sleeping more than normal, but there have been times when I have had the opposite effect and have slept less than normal. More often than not its the sleeping more.
Inadequate: I always feel like I am not enough. Not enough of a wife. Not enough of a mother. That I am not doing a good job at anything. I feel insignificant. Like a speck of dust.
Anxiety: Worry and anxiety over things I normally wouldn’t worry about.
Because I had mental illness I thought I would not be good enough. I would not be a good enough person, I would not be a good enough wife and I would not be a good enough mother.
I thought that I was worthless. Nothing.
I imagined that my family would be better off if I were not in their lives. That they deserved better. A better wife, a better mother.
My hospitalization and therapy helped me to realize things differently.
Talking to the doctor and nurses in mandatory therapy helped to mold my thought process into something that made a little more sense.
They explained to me that if I had a physical illness like diabetes or cancer it would not make me less of a person so why should a mental illness make me feel that way. At first I just could not grasp it. It made no sense to me.
But, If the role was reversed and you had mental illness I would be the first person to tell you that it did not make you less of a person, that you were strong, that you deserved to live. But within myself all I could do was see the negative, feel the depression and continue to hate myself.
I hated everything that I had become. Everything that mental illness did to me. I hated my decision process, I despised.
One thing that a nurse told me was that statistically if I committed suicide my children would have a higher possibility of doing the same. This struck me fiercely.
The last thing I wanted was for my children to end up attempting suicide because of decisions I made, or because they felt inadequate because of something I did.
This was the beginning of fighting the suicidal thoughts. Really fighting them. It was not easy, but I had to start somewhere.
My kids and my husband were the reason that I wanted to live.
I did not know what I was going to do with that life, with that willingness to fight, but I knew it was a start.
I have been contemplating writing this post for a long time. With what has been going on with us lately, I have decided I will give it a try.
After all, if this helps just one person, it will have been worth the share.
I wasn’t sure how it would be received. I wasn’t sure how I was going to write it. Years ago I wrote it for me. I wrote it in speech form as my 19 year old self and it was therapeutic. I have no desire to post it in that form, so I am going to start over.
This is my suicide survivor story.
Disclaimer: This could be triggering. Please take some time and be careful if you decide to read.
A yellow ribbon is a symbol that stands for suicide prevention, and I have worn a yellow ribbon as a reminder to myself that suicide is not the answer. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. There was a time in my life when I did not recognize this. I did not realize there were people to help and I thought that the only way to end my pain was to end my life.
I was 18 years old when I attempted suicide. It is a very ugly word. Suicide. But I want each and every person reading this post to remember it, and remember it well, because suicide is a reality, a truly ugly reality.
I have often had the thought that if everyone who ever had a thought about suicide actually committed it then we would almost all be dead. I have no idea how accurate this really is. But it is a thought that frequents my mind.
There were catalysts in my life that kept pushing at me. Pushing me off the deep end. Some of them were little, some were bigger and some were huge. But all of them combined together put such a pressure on my life that I was unable to function.
Some of the more relevant ones were: My Dad died when I was 13, I was Daddy’s little girl so that was hard, my Mom ended up with cancer not long after that and had to have surgery and treatments. But probably the biggest thing that was causing such a negative effect on my life was the fact that I was sexually abused and raped from the ages of 6 to 11, then as a teen there was an instance of date rape. I kept my sexual abuse bottled up inside me for 12 long years.
On October 9th, 1999 I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore. I sat on my bed and wrote a suicide note. I finished my letter walked out into the kitchen took a bunch of pills, placed them in my pocket and walked back into the bathroom and took them all. The first 2 I took my mind was asking “What are you doing?” I took 2 more and then 2 more and then the next thing I knew my hand was up to my mouth and half the pills were gone. I took a mouth full of water and then downed the rest of the pills. I went back into my bedroom.
I was laying across my bed thinking about how easy it would be to just go to sleep and fade out of existence.
Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. I DID NOT WANT TO DIE!! I was 18 years old with my entire life ahead of me. I turned my suicide note over, wrote on the back and left the house telling my Mom I would “be back in a second”.
A friend of mine was with me (she had no idea what I had done) but she knew something was terribly wrong. Eventually she went and got an older friend of mine who knew everything, he was like a brother to me and was the first person I had told about everything that happened to me. I was scared, I was shaking and I knew that I wanted to live.
He got there and asked me what was wrong. I began to cry and handed him my suicide note saying “here this explains everything”. At this point I did not know how to control myself, I was weak, I was dizzy and I was scared.
He read the first 2 lines, looked up at me and asked “Did you do it?” I did not answer. He looked at me again and in a more firm and demanding voice said, “Answer me, DID YOU DO IT?”. I whispered “yes”.
Right away things began to happen fast, but yet in slow motion, an odd sensation. He grabbed me and was helping me to walk, we got my brother and then my mom. We all got in a car and were driving. From what I can remember now (this being 15 years later) I was in the back seat and sorta starting to be a bit out of it. We stopped in the next town at friends and called the ambulance (the ambulance for our community comes from that town) it was actually a lot faster that way.
I don’t have a sense of time. I have no idea how long it took for it to arrive, it could have been hours, it could have been minutes. I remember being put on a stretcher and into the ambulance and then we were on our way. The attendant was taking my vitals and kept talking to me, asking questions and trying to keep me awake. I was given oxygen and was beginning to find it harder to breathe and there was a pain in my chest.
When we arrived at the hospital I was moved to a bed in the emergency room. I remember feeling closed in because there were doctors and nurses and hospital staff all around me. They did an EKG and put an IV into my right hand to feed me glucose and water. They did blood tests and took my vitals. They fed me a thick brown liquid that apparently saved my life and my liver. It was to make me throw up and hopefully rid my body of all the drugs. I remember not wanting to drink it but they said my choice was drink it and throw up or risk liver failure and be air lifted to another hospital for possible surgery. At this point in my life I was terrified of surgery, so I drank it.
Once my blood test results came back they changed my IV from glucose and water to an antidote. They then stuck another IV into my left hand with potassium going into it.
When I was finally moved out of the emergency room I was put into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) Observation where I was hooked up to a heart monitor and had a nurse watching over me at all times. I was not allowed to get out of bed because of the heart monitors and IV’s.
I felt like someone had literally beaten me with a stick, both inside and out. I was called a “special” which meant I could not be left alone at any time for any reason. Personally, I did not feel very special….
My first night there I spent 34 hours without sleeping. My glucose was taken 5 times a day, blood taken 3 times in 6 and a half hours, temperature taken every little while and my blood pressure was taken every hour. To top all this off, every time I so much as coughed or moved my heart monitor would begin going off.
They then switched my IV in my right hand with another antidote that would take 16 hours to go into my system.
It was my 3rd night there before I was finally unhooked from everything. I was moved to another room, but was still considered a “special”. I was moved around a few more times and was finally released on October 13th, 1999.
It was not a very good situation to be in. It was an eye opener for me and I learned some very valuable lessons while I was laying in bed unable to move, listening to the beeping of a heart monitor, contemplating my life. I learned that no matter how hard life seems, it is not so bad that you have to take your own life and end it. Your life is valuable. You are worth fighting for. You deserve to live. Do not be afraid to ask for help.
Statistics show that immediately after “attempting” suicide the person desperately wants to live…not die. This makes it so sad and scary for the people who do succeed with their attempt.
I was really lucky. I figured that out before too much damage was done to my body and I was lucid enough to get help.
No matter how dark the path ahead may look, no matter how bleak the future may seem, there is a light, follow the light. Accept help, talk to doctors, open up. Its hard, but what you might already be going through is hard too, and telling someone, opening up will take some of the pressure off.
I wanted to write out some confessions. Maybe some of them are not really confessions but facts in my life. Maybe it will help you get to know me a little better.
They are things that I deal with, that, well maybe you do too. Maybe some of these will make you feel less alone. And maybe, just maybe they may help me feel a little better by writing them out.
When I was first diagnosed I was somewhat hypomanic. I had been in hospital for 5 1/2 weeks with severe depression. I came home in a sorta mixed episode, mostly down, a little up. I clawed my way out of the depression and into a more stable and then up mood.
I saw my psychiatrist who gave me my diagnosis of Bipolar – most likely type 2.
The following is the root of confession #1 and #2. I came home sat down to the computer and wrote the following on my Facebook page:
“I have Bipolar disorder, but Bipolar disorder does NOT have me, It does not control my life, but I can choose to control it, and I refuse to let it define who I am as a person.”
Confession #1: I wrote it because I wanted the world to know I was out of hospital and there had been a reason for being there not just “She’s Crazy” as I thought people were saying.
Confession #2: Even thought I wrote that quote on my Facebook I do Sometimes feel like Bipolar disorder does define me.
Confession #3: I sometimes wonder if past childhood trauma had a hand to play in my mental health problems.
Confession #4: I am afraid of the dark….well not quite like it sounds. But I get anxious if I am alone in the dark. I know the reason behind this but am not ready to share it.
Confession #5: I self injured for 7 years, starting when I was 13. In the end I was self injuring numerous times, almost hourly.
Confession #6: I attempted suicide when I was 18 years old. I realized after that I did not want to die, I just wanted all the pain and hurt to stop and I was fortunate to have been able to get help.
Confession #7: My husband literally saved my life. I know without a doubt that I would not be here today if I had not met him when I did.
Confession #8: When I got pregnant with our daughter I was in a bad place. That pregnancy changed a lot of things for me. The song by Martina McBride Sums up how I feel about that:
But the truth is plain to see She was sent to rescue me I see who I wanna be In my daughter’s eyes
Confession #9: I hate, and I do mean HATE to the point of FEAR – Cabbage Patch Dolls, they are a huge trigger for me (yes I know why), I get anxious, my heart beats fast, I feel weak and get tingles going up my spine when I see one, or even a picture of one.
Confession #10: I have an almost identical fear of Ants – yes little crawling ants, black or red does not matter. I have had panic attacks over this little small bug – And yes I know why I have this reaction as well.
Confession #11: I sometimes like the hypomanic buzz that I get. The productivity. Being able to complete tasks quickly and more efficiently. New projects and researching things. (Until it gets really bad)
Confession #12: I do still have thoughts of self injury and have had slip ups since stopping. In fact the 5 1/2 weeks of hospitalization I spoke about earlier included self injury.
Confession #13: I hate odd numbers. Except 1. 1 is cool. The volume of anything has to be on an even number. If I purchase things it has to be in even numbers, unless I buy 1. Any more then 1 of anything is bought in even numbers, I prefer 6.
Confession #14: I have premonitions. I am serious. I get a thought, and if I do not act on it, something bad happens.
Confession #15: I have had eating issues all my life. When I was a child I barely ate, I was taken to drs but they said “She will eat when she is hungry”. Now I am a big woman and I go from binge eating, to eating very little several times a year. When I was in hospital I refused to eat. I lost 50 pounds (some was right before going in and a few after) and was very close to having a feeding tube inserted.
Confession #16: Sometimes when I look in the mirror I feel like I have lost myself and I do not recognize who is looking back at me. There was even a block of time when I refused to look in a mirror.
Confession #17: I was first diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Severe Depression, Suicidal idealization, and Self Injury tendencies when I was 18 years old.
Confession #18: I have used Alcohol in the past as an escape….but it almost always made things way worst.
Confession #19: Very few people know the circumstances behind my mental illnesses. I find it extremely hard to talk about. But typing or writing is much easier for me.
Confession #20: I am terrified that one of my children will have a mental illness and I fear that it will be my fault.